January 1, 2007
Orlando, Fla. -- Wisconsin won its school record-setting 12th victory of the season and the 2007 Capital One Bowl with a 17-14 win over Arkansas Monday at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. Quarterback John Stocco, who missed the final two games of the regular season, returned to the field for his final game in a Badger uniform and was named the most valuable player of the game.
Stocco completed 14 of his 34 attempts for 206 yards and two touchdowns. He will finish second to Darrell Bevell among Wisconsin's all-time leaders in passing yards, pass attempts, pass completions, completion percentage and passing touchdowns.
Stocco hit tight end Travis Beckum five times for 82 yards, including a team-long 29 yard reception, and one touchdown. Paul Hubbard and Luke Swan each brought in four catches. Hubbard finished with 73 yards receiving and one touchdown.
Wisconsin outdistanced the Razorbacks in the air but accumulated minus five yards rushing as a team. National freshman of the year P.J. Hill garnered just 36 yards on 19 carries.
Defensively, Mark Zalewski led the Badger effort with nine tackles while Joe Stellmacher finished with six and three more players, Zach Hampton, Mike Newkirk and Allen Langford, had five apiece. The Wisconsin defense also intercepted two Razorback passes. Hampton picked off his second career interception while DeAndre Levy recorded his first.
Arkansas put up 368 yards of total offense, including 232 yards on the ground, compared to just 206 offensive yards for the Badgers. But Wisconsin was able to hold off the Razorbacks from scoring big in the second half. After a 10-point lead at halftime, the Badgers would not score again. But the team's 17 points were enough to hold off the Razorbacks, who scored on touchdowns in the second half to come within three points, 17-14.
The only score of the second half was a Felix Jones' touchdown on a 12-yard run to bring the Razorbacks within a field goal, 17-14, with 14:04 to play in the game.
Jones finished with a game-high 150 yards rushing for two touchdowns, including a 76-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter.
On the opening drive of the game, Arkansas started off with a bang after a 45-yard run by Heisman Trophy finalist Darren McFadden. In what turned out to be a huge touchdown-saving tackle by UW cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu, McFadden was brought down from behind at the nine yard line. The Badger defense stopped the Razorbacks on the next three downs and Arkansas was forced to kick a field goal. The 30-yard attempt went wide left and Arkansas was unable to score on its first possession.
The Badgers took advantage of the Arkansas miscue and put together a drive of their own. Wisconsin was first on the board after a Capital One Bowl record field goal of 52 yards from junior kicker Taylor Mehlhaff. The kick, which is tied for the fourth longest in school history, was a career high for Mehlhaff and also the longest in a Wisconsin bowl game.
Wisconsin, unfortunately, didn't have the lead for long. After the ensuing kickoff, Jones took the first play from scrimmage 76 yards giving the Razorbacks an early 7-3 lead.
Late in the first stanza, an Andy Crooks 24-yard reception at the Arkansas 22-yard line set up the first Wisconsin touchdown of the game. Two plays later, Stocco would connect with Paul Hubbard on a 22-yard fade pass to the right corner of the endzone to cap the 91-yard drive, the longest in a bowl game for Wisconsin. The Badgers regained the lead 10-7 with just 27 ticks left in the first quarter.
With 6:13 to play in the second quarter, Stocco threw his second touchdown toss of the afternoon, a 13-yard pass to Beckum on another fade route, this time to the left corner of the endzone. The play was under review but the touchdown would stand. The Badgers led 17-7.
On the next Arkansas drive, UW's Ben Strickland blocked the punt and recovered it at the Razorback 38-yard line. The Badgers turned the ball over two plays later when Stocco's pass was tipped and intercepted by Keith Jackson.
Arkansas took over but was quickly halted and faced a fourth-and-one situation. Jonathan Casillas successfully defended a Casey Dick pass that fell incomplete and the Badgers took over on downs. A Stocco pass intended for Beckum on a first down was intercepted by Chris Houston but the Badgers would take the ball back on an interception of their own by Zach Hampton as time expired. Wisconsin took its 10-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
In the first half Wisconsin was dropped for minus three yards rushing as a team but made up for it in the air. Stocco passed for 171 yards in the first half alone and threw two touchdowns. Meanwhile Hill garnered just 10 yards on six carries.